Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Govt admits it can't pay war widows' handouts

Govt admits it can't pay war widows' handouts

Govt admits it can't pay war widows' handouts

W IDOWS and orphans of Cambodian soldiers killed in the continuing guerrilla war

are only entitled to $100 in benefits, but the government cannot afford even

this.

"For my ministry, we don't want the war to drag on. If it does it

means we'll be burdened with more dead and more amputees," Dr Hong Theme, under

secretary of state of Social Welfare, Labor and Veterans' Affairs, said on April

26. He called for international humanitarian organizations to help rehabilitate

Cambodia.

Theme said the annual budget allocation to run the ministry

could not even cover six months of expenses.

He said his ministry was

responsible for providing financial benefits to more than 140,000 dependents

including wives, mothers and children of deceased government

servicemen.

However, the government could not make payment on the monthly

entitlements, which came to $220,000 - well beyond the means of his

budget.

"If any one government soldier is killed on the battlefield, we

pay immediately three months salary to the family and funeral costs. After that

we pay another three months salary followed by a final 12 months salary," he

said.

An average soldier's salary is $7 per month.

According to

Theme, the figures only covered soldiers who served with the former State of

Cambodia.

 

The ministry had also received a list of dead servicemen who had served with

the former royalist and non-government guerrilla factions that joined the State

of Cambodia in last May's UN-supervised elections.

This had been returned

for further verification.

No figures are available for Khmer Rouge

dead.

Now only the families of servicemen killed in action are entitled

to government assistance, he said.

Another of Cambodia's biggest social

problems is dealing with 200,000 orphans.

"As you understand because of

more than 20 years of war, especially the Pol Pot time, this created many, many

orphans," he said.

The Khmer Rouge, lead by Pol Pot were responsible for

the deaths of more than one million Cambodians during a 1970s reign of

terror.

He said many orphans had known no other home except housing

provided by the state.

"Some orphans living in orphanages since 1979 are

adults, so they have to leave the orphanage and we have to help them get a

profession," he said.

The inability of the government to meet its

financial obligations to war victims had led to an upsurge of homeless children

living on the street and amputee beggars.

"Another problem you might have

seen is amputee beggars at markets or on the roads. You may wonder if the

government pays them, why are they begging," Theme said, adding: "This is a very

difficult problem."

An estimated 10 million land mines in Cambodia

continues to claim hundreds of victims per month.

"In Cambodia, social

welfare is one of the smallest ministries," Theme said.-Reuters

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished